Intelligent ways to delay fatigue, increase comfort and feel great on Ironman race day...
Let's make no bones about it. Ironman events are TOUGH. With their 3.8km swim, 180km bike and marathon 42.2 km run, it's a long hard day no matter how good your Ironman training schedule was.
Over such a long event all sorts of minor problems will rear their ugly heads - such as back ache, overheating and skin rub. These all contribute to your overall pain and fatigue, leading to a nagging feeling that you want to quit. For this reason, comfort is everything in a race lasting anything from 8 to 17 hours.
In this blog I'll provide 3 simple coaching tips to help you avoid disaster and boost your race day happiness.
1. Dial In Your Bike Position
While it's important to be aerodynamic on your bike, do not under any circumstances sacrifice comfort for being aero. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but trust me when I say this: When you're 3-hours into a 6-hour ride and your neck really hurts, you won't give a sh1t about reducing your drag coefficient. You'll be sitting up tall, stretching your back and cursing your bad fortune. Chances are you'll ride faster if you can simply maintain a comfortable aero-bar position for the duration.
2. Don't Go Full Aero Lid
Choose a semi-aero helmet rather than a full-aero one. Semi-aero helmets such as the Specialized Evade combine an aerodynamic shape with adequate ventilation. Sure, on paper you might be a couple of minutes quicker with a full-aero lid. However, Ironman races are not raced on paper. The reality is that full aero helmets make you super hot and the visor usually steams up so you can't see the road properly. Both of these things become very demoralizing over time, as well as potentially dangerous. You'll probably be quicker without one.
3. Carry Your Lube
Chafe, rubbing, skin soreness - call it what you like. It WILL happen in an Ironman and it can ruin your race. Thankfully there's an easy solution - carry some lube at all times. Start the day by applying BodyGlide to all rub-prone areas of your body. This lube-stick is designed for events like Ironman and stays on for hours and hours. Then stick a blob of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to the side of your bike stem, so that you can access it during the ride if things get sore down-under. On the run carry a lip balm such as Chapstick. This can be applied to feet, arm pits, nipples, groins and various other unpleasant areas of the body in an emergency. There's just enough to get you out of trouble and it won't weigh you down.
Once your race-day comfort is maximised you're free to enjoy your Ironman experience in it's fullness. In other words you can focus on the usual Ironman discomforts, such as general fatigue and aching limbs without adding to them unnecessarily. After all, Ironman isn't supposed to be easy.
By Phil Mosley.
Triathlon Plus Coaching Editor & Ironman Certified Coach.
Founder of My Pro Coach.
The Serious Training Blog
Train Smart. Race Fast.
Phil Mosley is a triathlon coach and writer.